So at the start of the week, I was dispatching on a middle-sized coal hauler. By midweek, I was dispatching a huge railroad stretching across several states, as well as running their freight forwarding division. And now, on Sunday, I’m sitting in a going-to-rust, unwashed FEC engine in Miami Yard, tugging cars back and forth, a lowly classification hogger.
How did this happen? The author side of me wishes it was because of a substance abuse problem, a fight over a woman, or perhaps because I caused a wreck that killed innocents and this was the only railroad job I could get, a bottom-of-the-bucket yardlette.
Nothing of the sort. I didn’t even get caught stealing company pens. No, that’s the magic of model railroading ops – you can try different jobs on different lines, switching about from session to session (and even running on different layouts). This explains why my employment record is so… variable.
Ken’s layout is a blast, as always, and we (the two yard switchers, the yard master and the engine hostler) had it down. When the session started, we were building trains faster than they were going out. It looked like a scramble on an RAF field, train following train rumbling out. Then there was cleanup and the occasional inbound. I started to feel pretty cocky about how damn good we were, which, as you might suspect, is when a big bucket of reality splashes you.
In this case, it came from a coal drag that I had to place for departure across my yard throat, whose crew was delayed in getting it out. Meanwhile, two trains came in, then a third. With my ladder jammed under coal, there was nothing I could do about running down to the far end and picking up a cut for classifying. Then a mixup with the dispatcher and crews lead to a waiting freight departing prematurely and running over a turnout, derailing on the main. I helped clean that up and finally got that coal lugger out of my hair. Then it was time to classify, which I did, nonstop. It took us an hour to come back from that twist.
But it was fun and we still finished on time. And that’s good. Maybe I’ll get a promotion out of this.